You own a limo service, but your customer list is a short one. If you don’t change something quick, you will have to go back to driving for someone else, or find a new line of work — not good. What do successful limo companies know that you don’t?
They know how to get leads that you do not. They retain their best customers, and they charge a fee that not only makes the customer happy but pays the bills and provides additional profit to reinvest in growing the business.
Here’s how to replicate the success of other profitable limo services.
Getting Licensing and Regulatory Out Of The Way
You will want to get regulatory issues out of the way first by applying for, and obtaining, your business license, liability insurance, and a chauffeur’s license (if necessary). You’ll also want to make sure you set up a corporate structure that makes sense for your business. While you do need to market, the legal aspect needs to be taken care of first, or you could find yourself in trouble with local regulators.
Understand Your Strengths, And Play To Them
What do you know best? Why do people book rides with you? Is because you’re the lowest fare? If so, consider revising your marketing strategy. One thing you’ve probably learned (the hard way) is that the race to the bottom on pricing doesn’t make for a good business model. In fact, it often bankrupts the most ambitious price-dropper.
Don’t try to compete on price until you are the largest business in your market. Even then, cutthroat pricing models tend to only work in the short-term. Eventually, you figure out what the market already knows: they want value.
This is especially true in the limo business, where the service is inherently expensive to begin with. Cutting corners to save people money just doesn’t make sense.
Beyond the basics, what market do you want to cater to? There are several popular ones in the limo industry, including the wedding niche, the funeral niche, and the business and corporate niche.
Each one has its own problems and demands you have to cater to. For example, the wedding niche is very particular about themes and how the limo is decorated. It’s also full of brides that are stressed and worried about everything going perfectly.
You may or may not find that they are demanding. But, you will have to work around hectic schedules that may not make sense to you. You may need to make multiple pick ups and drop offs and stay at venues with awkward parking arrangements.
Can you accommodate these couples? Do you want to? Can you provide a unique experience or something that other limo drivers aren’t providing? Find out what your market really wants, and the limo services in your area aren’t providing. Then, fill that gap and do it in a way that makes it hard to compete with you.
Budgeting For Marketing
Your marketing dollars need to be spent wisely. Don’t overextend yourself by spending so much money on one form of marketing that doesn’t generate leads as the expense of another that does. New businesses often do this. For example, does your company need business cards and stationery? Probably not.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, you probably only need a website, and a way to drive traffic there. Capture prospect’s email addresses, and you can then followup with them. This is much cheaper than printing out a bunch of business cards, handing them out, and hoping someone responds to them (they usually don’t).
Keeping your marketing costs low in the beginning is important, because the more money you can make, the more you can reinvest in it — driving growth through direct response type marketing where every advertising initiative is held accountable and is tracked. If it doesn’t produce a direct response, then it’s not an effective form of advertising and should be scrapped.
Get Good Vehicles
Part of marketing your business is fulfilling the promise of that marketing.
Once you’ve figured out your ideal market, and you have a service you can take to market, it’s time to get your vehicles.
You can read about American Limousine to get an idea of the level of quality that’s standard in the industry. Make sure that you buy from reputable limo providers and dealers. And, make sure that you take time to analyze the cost structure of buying vs leasing.
Most limo companies know that leasing is initially cheaper than buying, but eventually buying becomes the cheaper option.
Also, buying allows you to customize your limos so that you can better serve your market. Let’s say your primary market is businessmen, and that you do a lot of airport runs or chauffeur to fancy hotels or to corporate events. You will want your limousines decorated a certain way. Perhaps you will want to include a minibar and drinks. Or, maybe you’ll want to include corporate magazines that you know businessmen like to read, like Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes.